The East Africa Law Society was born out of a challenge East African Lawyers got when they attended a United States, State Department sponsored study tour for African legal practitioners from 40 countries in Washington DC in 1995.Back then, the East Africa Community was comprised of the Republics of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. During the session on African Bars Forum, it became apparent that lawyers from the other economic blocks were organized in regional bar associations with the exception East African Lawyers.
Lawyers from East Africa noticed how well the other African Lawyers interacted and seemed to have a uniform platform for learning and cooperation. Challenged that they only got to meet at conferences convened by the IBA, they were confronted by the reality that this regionâ€™s lawyers only got to discuss their issues courtesy of the IBA. East African Lawyers then held discussion on how they could come together and form a regional association. This gave birth to the idea of EALS.
The then president of TLS; senior counsel Amb.MwanaidiMajarwith a team of other lawyers in the region including Mr. Paul Wamae, Ms. Harriet Diana Musoke and others used the opportunity to negotiate and develop a draft constitution for a regional bar for the three East African Nations.
They drafted a constitution for the Society which was entrusted to Mrs. MwanaidiMajar, Mr. Charles Rwechungura and Mr. Kamejafor registration. The aim was to register a regional body. However, at the time, the governance system was very restrictive and the only way to register was asa company limited by guarantee. Sharing in the vision for the region two esteemed senior advocates, Mr. Mohammed Ismail and Mr. EvaristMbuya agreed to take it up as the initial subscribers. The intention right from the start and which was encapsulated in the Memorandum and Articles of Association was to have aninstitution providing institutional and individual membership for all lawyers in East Africa. The EALS was registered on 26th October, 1995, as a Company Limited by Guarantee and registered as a foreign company in Kenya and Uganda.
It was not until four years later under the presidency and leadership of Mr. Colman Ngalothat EALS was able to set up a secretariat in Arusha at the Arusha International Conference Centre. The first CEO of EALS was Advocate Julius Sabuni.
The EALS was reorganized in the year 2000 under a new strategic plan. A new CEO was then brought in in the year 2002 to aid the delivery of the new strategic direction of the Society.
Since then, EALS has grown in leaps and bounds to become the largest organized professional membership organization in East Africa with more than 17,000 members and a strong mandate and interest in the practice and professional development of law as well as people-centred regional integration, constitutionalism, democracy and good governance, the just rule of law and the advancement, promotion and protection of all human rights of all people in East Africa and beyond.
In 2013 members passed a resolution to amend the Memorandum and Articles of Association to reflect the entry of Burundi and Rwanda into the membership of EALS and also inserted an affirmative action clause on gender representation as well as affirming ownership of the Society by the members.
EALS has official observer status at the East African Community and works closely with the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), the East African Legislative Assembly(EALA), the African Court of Peoples and Human Rights(AfCHPR), theAfrican Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights among other reputable regional and international bodies.